Do you specialise in your freelancing? I’ve been giving this subject a bit of thought lately as these days I seem to be specialising in landscapes. It wasn’t a deliberate choice; it has just happened. Admittedly, I do like it.
When I started freelancing I specialised in pictures of kids doing things but that was just because I had the subjects on hand and a camera always ready. I was fairly successful with black and white prints that were sold regularly to Nursery World and Child Education among others. I invited these magazines to hold prints on file if they wished and I often had pictures published some years after I had submitted them — I think the record was something like eight years. As a bonus, several pictures were used twice, several years apart with the added cheque out of the blue being very welcome. That sort of specialisation was, I suppose, specialisation of opportunity.
Most of us have these, whether they be at work or at home. If you have a craft hobby, you probably know others with a similar hobby who could provide photo opportunities and, as most hobbies have some sort of publication allied to them, there are market opportunities, too.
A number of years ago I interviewed at long distance David Noton, eminent landscape photographer, when his book Waiting for the Light was published. It has become one of the books that I constantly pick off my shelf when I feel the need for inspiration. Here is the article I wrote and which was adapted for use in Australian Photography magazine when it was combined with another interview which I did, again at long distance, with Tom Mackie, another equally eminent landscape photographer.
It was a cold November day in England’s Lake District with regular showers from the jumbled clouds that scudded over a landscape filled with the glowing colours of late autumn. I was on a weekend workshop with Charlie Waite, one of England’s finest landscape photographers and it was then as I stood guard over my tripod mounted camera with a plastic bag hood over it that I learnt that most valuable lesson for the making of landscape photographs — “wait for the light”. When the light did eventually come, it was fleeting but I got the shot. It was worth the wait.
When I heard that David Noton, another of England’s fine landscape photographers, had written a book called Waiting for the Light I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I had known of David’s work for many years and during the time I spent in England a few years ago, I had read his articles in the photographic press with enthusiasm.
I have interviewed Ross Hoddinott a couple of times. This young nature photographer has made his mark in his chosen genre and has also written several books. This is the text of the second interview written several years ago but still worth reading.
When I first interviewed Ross Hoddinott in 2005, he was about to have his first book published. Now, he is awaiting the delivery of his second book which for a young fellow not yet 30 is an impressive record.
But not a surprising one. After all, he had won his first photographic competition at the age of 12 and went on to become the British Gas BBC Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year five years later. He has since been highly commended in the adult section in 2005. He had also decided at 17 that he would be a wildlife and nature photographer — this at an age at which many young men are still debating whether to be a professional footballer or a racing car driver if they are even thinking about the future further ahead than the next weekend!
“Ever since my parents first gave me a small compact camera for Christmas, when I was 11, I wanted to record wildlife on film. A year later, in 1990, I won BBC Countryfile’s junior flora and fauna category in their annual photography competition with a photograph of paired dragonflies. By the time I was awarded the British Gas BBC Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 1995 I had already decided my future profession — I wanted to be a natural history photographer!
I interviewed John Potter a number of years ago and the following is the text of the article that was published in The Countryman (UK).
There is one thing that all photographers of the landscape seem to have in common — passion. A passion not only for photography but an abiding passion for the countryside that they are picturing.
And, John Potter from York is no exception. “I love the countryside and am passionate about landscape photography, so to have the opportunity to combine the two is enormously satisfying, and far more important than earning great riches!”
I had found John through his website and having been very impressed with what I saw I immediately contacted him to arrange an interview. And, I wasn’t the first to have been impressed with his work.
“A major break happened for me about two years ago when, in the autumn of 2003, Barry Milton of Myriad Books Ltd called me after seeing my web site. He asked if I had many pictures of Yorkshire Dales villages. I sent him some sample pictures and within a couple of weeks I had signed my first contract with Myriad. My deadline for supplying approx 120 pictures and all the captions for Yorkshire Dales Villages (ISBN 1904736114) was November 2004. I planned to draw 50% of the pictures from shots that I already had and shoot the remainder during the next 12 months.”
That was the sort of break that landscape photographers dream about but for John it was not all plain sailing as he was a teacher with all the commitments that that entails. However, he achieved his target and his first book was published.
I learned that John had been a teacher for over twenty years and I wondered how long he had been involved in photography.
“I made my first black and white print in 1983. I joined York Camera Club that year and was soon entering competitions and sending my work to magazines. During the mid-90s I produced a series of darkroom articles for Practical Photography magazine and then went on to teach O Level Photography in the evenings for a number of years in a local Adult Education Centre.
Some years ago I interviewed a number of photographers with the results being published in The Countryman, a popular UK magazine. This is one if them.
“So much beautiful landscape — so little time!” Nick Jenkins smiled as he said it and then added, “What really drives me is the total love I have of our landscapes and the desire to share that with folk through the medium of my work.” In a few words this company executive turned landscape photographer summed up his passion for our countryside and his photography.
When the company that Nick had worked in for twenty-seven years was taken over he found himself ‘surplus to requirements’ as he so succinctly puts it. At an age that is, in employment agency speak ‘difficult’, he took stock of his talents and interests and decided to have a go at converting his ten years experience as a hobby landscape photographer into a business.
It is often said that fortune favours the brave but it is often forgotten that fortune tends to come to those who make an effort. In Nick’s case, he sought advice from a fellow photographer, Steve Day, who, as Nick said, “not only provided plenty of sound advice but put me in touch with a very prestigious possible first client! This worked out well and my first big commission was under way within five weeks of setting myself up as Freespirit Images in August 2002. Sadly, Steve died of a brain tumour shortly after we made contact but his generosity and help were very instrumental in the successful launch of my business.”
While this interview is not new, it still contains many words of wisdom for photographers today.
Herefordshire is my mother’s native county so I may be forgiven when I say that I consider it one of the most photogenic of England’s many photogenic counties and I can see why a landscape photographer of David Ward’s calibre would make it his home.
I had driven from London to interview David as I had heard that he had a book to be published later in the year and also because I had liked what I had seen of his work in the UK photographic press.
Having had a welcome cuppa, said ‘hi’ to David’s wife, Jenny, who was concentrating on her computer working on the administration of Light and Land, a company which runs photographic tours and workshops, and accepted the welcoming ministrations of their dogs, I began to probe David’s photographic past which I quickly learned featured food, dogs by the dozen and racing cars in his time as an assistant after gaining his degree.
But, as the specialist food photographer he was assisting commented after five or six months, “You don’t really want to do food photography, do you.” “Not really.” “So, what do you want to do?” “I’d like to do landscape photography but I know there’s no money in that.”
With that out in the open, David was sent to speak to Paul Wakefield, an advertising photographer who also made brilliant landscapes.
New Chum Hill, Kiandra, Snowy Mountains, NSW, Australia
I stood on the hillside at Kiandra and through the wind whipping along the valley and cutting straight through me I heard voices of the diggers from the past as they searched desperately for the metal that would change their lives.
“G’day! Any luck?”
The grimy, sweating miner grubbing in the creek looked up at the weary travellers, “Sure, but your best bet is on that hill over there.”
The newcomers moved on, a steady climb ahead of them. All around the hills and creeks were alive with frantically searching miners, an occasional whoop signalling that the hillside or a rushing creek had revealed some of its golden treasure.
Down by the creek they had just left the miner laughed as he jerked his thumb at the travellers trudging up the hill and called to his mate, “New chums. They won’t last long. I’ve sent them up to that hill.”
I live in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and happen to think it a great place to live and to visit. Have a look at some of my articles at http://davidbigwoodpublishing.blog/snowy-mountains-nsw/. Click on ‘Snowy Mountains NSW’ at the top of that page to see all the articles.
You may also like to look at my e-book Explore Around Jindabyne, an illustrated guide for tourists to some of the attractions around the Snowy Mountains town of Jindabyne in New South Wales, Australia.